Ask Amy

Ask Amy: Mother wants daughter to magically tidy up

DEAR AMY: First of all, I so respect your combination of compassion, common sense and directness. I think I learn something from you just about every day.

My daughter is married and has two teenage sons. Both she and her husband work full time and the boys are in competitive soccer, which takes up their early evenings and weekends.

Therefore their home suffers for it. She and her husband do not clean; their home looks like a cyclone hit it, and I am worried the boys are not getting the right message on how to take care of their space and “things.”

I know she will get defensive if I say anything the wrong way, so I am asking your help for the words I can use to help her see the lessons she needs to teach them, to help them be proud to bring friends home – and also how much better she and her husband would feel about themselves.

Thank you for any help you can give me, even if it is to be quiet and say nothing. I truly respect the wisdom you have.

A Caring Mom and Grandma

DEAR CARING: Thank you so much for your kind words.

If your daughter expresses frustration over the state of her house, this would provide you with an opportunity to offer help.

As it is, if you couch your comments in straightforward language, without seeming to blame or shame her family, you might make an impact. (I agree with you, by the way, that a person’s house can, when it’s tidied up, provide an unusual and unexpected boost.)

There is a very popular book sweeping through the land like a giant Swiffer, titled “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” by Marie Kondo (2014, Ten Speed Press). Do not, under any circumstances, give this book to your daughter until you’ve read it first. I issue this advisory because reading this book made me want to hurt someone. For me, the book did not “spark joy” – a concept the author pushes like an angry vacuum. But it might spark joy for your daughter.

Say to your daughter, “You all are so busy. I know it’s hard to keep up with the house, so I’m offering to help. I can come over next weekend and give you 10 hours of my time. Are you willing to let me help in this way?” If they are willing, a great holiday gift for this family might be a biweekly cleaning service.

If your daughter demurs, let it go.

DEAR AMY: My friend’s daughter just sent me a thank-you note for attending her graduation party. There was no mention of the gift I gave.

Is this some kind of code for “I don’t know who gave me what gift?”

Am I supposed to contact her to make sure she received my gift, or should I just let it slide?

Gifts were left on a table near the door of the VFW hall, not at their home.

Puzzled

DEAR PUZZLED: Yes, this note does contain a code, but I read it like this: “My mother made me send out these notes and she addressed the envelopes and everything because I don’t know how to do that, and so she raised me pretty well but didn’t quite finish the job.”

You should have been thanked for your specific gift. But you were thanked. So let’s give this young person the benefit of at least signing her name to a form letter, even if she might not be sure what it’s for.

If wondering about your gift will cause you to lie awake at night worrying about it, then you could contact the family to confirm that it was received. If it were me, I would drop it and sleep like a baby.

DEAR AMY: “Worried” was a 29-year-old woman with a 27-year-old boyfriend who felt she was “past her prime.”

Wow. Any person who thinks a 29-year-old is too old for anything should have his head examined. She should find someone else.

Definitely Past Prime

DEAR PRIME: I completely agree. Thank you.

Write Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribpub.com.

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